Question of the Day: Will the latest allegations against Lance Armstrong hurt his image? [Updated]
Philip Hersh, Chicago Tribune
Sports Illustrated added more smoke to the doping cloud around Lance Armstrong this week, so will everyone now see the fire? Unlikely.
The magazine’s addition to the overwhelming amount of circumstantial and "he-said, she-said" evidence that strongly suggests Armstrong used PEDs still is unlikely to sound an alarm among the general public. Even a grand jury indictment may not be enough to do that unless it produces a conviction. And the Armstrong acolytes, swayed by his important contributions to the cancer community, never will feel their man has done them wrong.
Bottom line: This has gone on so long that even if a court says Armstrong doped –- and I certainly believe he did –- most people in a society that seeks pharmacological help for everything may shrug their shoulders and wonder what the fuss is about.
Nick Mathews, Newport News (Va.) Daily Press
The answer to the question is an unequivocal yes, no matter if they are proven true or if Armstrong admits guilt.
Exhibit A, Barry Bonds. The former San Francisco Giants star owns the most cherished record in America’s pastime. Yet, few remember his career fondly. Bonds has not admitted using performance-enhancing drugs, but the evidence is mounted as high as the Alps.
The same is said for Armstrong, who conquered those mountains to win seven Tour de France titles. Said Union Cycliste Internationale President Pat McQuaid this week: “[Cycling] is bigger than Lance Armstrong.” True, but he is the most famous cyclist in the world -- and the only professional cyclist 99.9% of Americans know by name.
The damage of these allegations do more than tarnish Lance's legacy; they cut to the bone the image of a sport that finally was gaining ground in the United States.
[Updated at 10:32 a.m.:
Gary R. Blockus, The Morning Call
Lance Armstrong is the Teflon man. Nothing sticks to him. He’s beaten testicular cancer to win seven Tour de France titles. He’s beaten all doping allegations so far and has never tested positive.
Divorce your wife? No big deal. Leave Sheryl Crow while she’s battling breast cancer? No big deal. Have other cyclists accuse you and cite similar stories of being in a hotel room during a premier race watching him make Floyd Landis cry by pouring his bag of blood or blood products down a toilet. Hah, just stories without any physical evidence.
If Alberto Contador hasn’t faced sanctions yet by claiming he ate “tainted beef,” then Armstrong will never be touched beyond the occasional allegation.
Lance Armstrong isn’t a person, he’s a multi-million dollar business and has a PR machine and a cadre of lawyers ready to take down anyone who opposes the maillot jaune. Hurt his image? One word: Livestrong.]
[Updated at 11:19 a.m.:
Diane Pucin, Los Angeles Times
For nearly his entire cycling career there has been a segment of fans who have doubted Lance Armstrong’s assertion that he hasn’t doped. There’s another segment who vehemently point to the fact that Armstrong has never failed a drug test.
Unless Armstrong is convicted of a crime, most of those in the second segment will remain faithful in their belief of Armstrong and maybe they’ll stay strong even if the seven-time Tour de France winner is convicted of a doping crime. They will say that the good he’s done in raising money for cancer will outweigh any doping lies he might have told.
If Armstrong is indicted and has a trial, even if he never gets convicted, Armstrong will lose something though. Maybe it will be just a little chunk of his reputation. “Well, yeah, OK, he doped,” some might say. “So did most of the guys he beat plus, he’s got the charity.”
Or maybe a larger chunk will be lost. “He doped, he cheated, who cares what anyone else did. He’s a fraud.”
And since Armstrong is almost 40 and pretty much done with cycling, unlike, say, Tiger Woods, Armstrong won’t be able to regain his reputation on the sporting field by winning something. All that’s left for him is to keep losing.]
Check out a video take on the situation here.
Photo: Lance Armstrong. Credit: Nathalie Magniez / AFP/Getty Images